Affordability, A Public Option, Inclusion, Coverage for All and Relief for Middle Class

Contact: Gary Zuckett
Executive Director

October 13, 2009


Senate Finance’s health reform falls far short of HELP bill;
WV CAG calls for improvements as the two Senate bills are merged

Charleston, WV – WV Citizen Action today called on Senate Majority Leader Reid and his colleagues to make good on the promise of quality, affordable health care for all Americans, with a strong national public health insurance option.

“We are pleased that the Senate process is moving forward and that now Majority Leader Reid and West Virginia’s Senators will have another opportunity to vastly improve this legislation,” said Gary Zuckett, the group’s executive director, “The foundation of health care reform should be built upon a public health insurance option and other measures necessary to make health care more affordable.”

“Health reformers across the nation continue to applaud the efforts of our own Senator Rockefeller’s efforts to make the needed changes in Senate legislation, added Zuckett, “His goal is simple, to make health care coverage fair and affordable for all Americans.”

Zuckett said the legislation voted out of the Senate Finance Committee today is unacceptable as a final reform bill for five reasons:

· It lets employers off the hook. The Senate should adopt the HELP Committee’s requirement that employers who have 25 or more employees should pay a reasonable share of their employees’ health coverage.

· It is unaffordable, particularly for those who do not get health insurance through their employer or are unemployed. It will require the typical family to pay thousands of dollars more each year just to maintain their coverage. The Senate should adopt the affordability credits and benefits package in the HELP bill.

· It lacks a public option. The Senate HELP bill gives consumers the choice of a public option so that they are not left at the mercy of private insurance company’s high prices and bad practices. Even worse, the Finance Committee bill requires consumers to buy insurance from private companies.

· It is not inclusive. The Senate Finance bill does not cover many immigrants and it does not fully fund reproductive health care.

· It raises revenue the wrong way. The Senate Finance bill taxes higher-cost health care benefits, which would hurt many middle-income families. Instead of this approach, the Senate should raise needed revenue to pay for quality, affordable health care by taxing the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

WV Citizen Action Group is part of Health Care for America Now, the nation’s largest health care reform campaign. Between May and September of this year, Health Care for America Now organized or supported more than 300 town hall meetings and forums on health care and generated 288,000 grassroots contacts to Congress, including phone calls, letters, faxes, emails and petitions.

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